The Netherlands Content from the guide to life, the universe and everything

The Netherlands

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Faculty of Science

The Netherlands: Introduction | Topography | Facts and Figures |
Polders and Dykes | The Dutch National Anthem | Dutch - the Language | Dutch Pronunciation | Dutch Grammar | Handy Dutch Phrases |
The Dutch | Transportation in the Netherlands

The Netherlands, also known unofficially as Holland1, is a small country2, has about 15 million inhabitants, and is located in Western Europe bordering Germany, Belgium and the North Sea.

Many first-time visitors comment that its population is densely packed. Cities and towns take up about 40% of the land mass, the rest is farmland, pastures, forests and woodland. As half of the land was reclaimed from the sea, the country is mostly flat and below sea level. The sea is prevented from flooding this land by a protective system of dykes and dams.

The busiest area is called the Randstad3, the area in the west, inbetween and around the four major cities: Amsterdam, The Hague, Rotterdam and Utrecht. The Randstad is a densely-populated area of towns and cities that have grown and clustered together, and it contains most of the population and light industry.

The People

The Dutch are friendly, proud, independent, productive, open-minded and liberal people. Literacy is very high4, and most Dutch people speak English and some German, as well as their native Dutch. The people generally are very sociable, and welcome visitors to their country. They're usually happy to help out tourists where they can with directions or explanations of Dutch customs and ways of doing things.

The average Dutchman is very proud of his country, although they can also be quite critical about it, especially where government or money is concerned. Basically they're a very down-to-earth people, whose ethics are best described by two typically Dutch sayings:

  • 'Just act normally, that's weird enough.'
  • 'In Holland shirts are sold with the sleeves already rolled up.'
1Holland is actually part of the Netherlands.2It is about twice the size of New Jersey in the US.3Which means 'Edge City'.4Approximately 99%.

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